Going zero waste is an attractive concept for anyone who is interested in living a more ecofriendly lifestyle. While there is no such thing as "zero" waste and the perfect untouched-by-plastic lifestyle, there are definitive ways you can adjust your life to significantly reduce the amount of trash you create daily.
Today we will dive into how to do just that with 5 simple steps.
Define Your "Why"
What motivates you? What drives you to make a change? Chances are your why will differ from another zero waste lifestyle seeker's why. Remember that this is YOUR journey, and you will be your greatest teacher along the way.
Quick tip: jot down your why on a note in your phone or on write it on a sticky note and stick in on your bathroom mirror. Revisit your why when you are lacking motivation.
Take a Look in the Mirror
Take an honest look in the mirror and assess where you are creating the most waste right now.
It it through packaged foods and snacks?
Is it through cosmetics?
Is it through food waste?
Is it through single-use disposables such as cups, bags, utensils and straws?
By evaluating where you are at right now, you are making the first and most important step to making the move to a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
Start with What's Easiest for You
Once you've located the areas of your life that you'd like to leave behind, you can now begin taking baby steps to where you want to go. Remember: any major lifestyle change does not happen overnight. It takes days upon weeks upon months upon even sometimes years. You are challenging yourself to relearn the ways you have been doing things for likely your entire life. So have patience with yourself, and nurture the process.
Here are fun and easy ways to transition to the zero waste lifestyle:
1. Bring your Zero Waste Kit with you everywhere. This will allow you to be hella prepared at all times to refuse single-use plastics and waste.
2. Adopt the 6 R's. You've likely been taught the 3 R's: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Now it's time to add three more to the mix: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Rot and Recycle (and only in that order). Stay tuned for a blog post dedicated to the 6 R's coming soon.
3. Say sayonara to plastic. Toothbrushes, chapstick, plastic razors, dish sponges, tampons + pads, hairbrushes, etc. Swap disposable items with sustainable & reusable alternatives made from bamboo, hemp, sustainably-sourced paper, wood, or metal.
4. Just say no. To bags. To straws. To plastic utensils. To napkins. To freebies (this is a big one!). To ALL single-use disposables, really. Practice setting boundaries by politely saying, “No, thank you” when confronted with potential waste. Say it more than once so it really lands. It may be hard at first, but you'll get really good at this. Trust us.
5. Learn how to shop in bulk. Bring your own produce bags + containers to the store and fill em' up with the good good. Be sure to tare your containers prior to filling them so that you aren't charged extra. Visit our founder Marina Qutab's Eco Goddess YouTube channel for step-by-step videos.
6. Shop at the Farmer's Market. Shop local & organic when possible. Refuse twisty ties, elastic bands, plastic bags and plastic containers. Bring your own jars and reusable bags.
7. DIY. Your makeup, your cleaning products, your personal care products, your nut milks, etc. Get creative, friends!
8. Save money and the planet by shopping secondhand. In addition, learn how to upcycle (such as sewing an old pair of jeans into a purse!); only buy what you need; trade clothes with friends; and when necessary, invest a little more to support responsible, slow fashion.
Investigate How to Properly Dispose of Unnecessary Things
It can be tempting to want to throw away all of your old items that define your not-so-sustainable-and-sexy lifestyle; however, it's important remember the goal here which is to create less waste. Responsibly dispose of the things you no longer want and need by locating the resources that will take them.
First, donate. Donate your items to friends, family or a center such as Goodwill. As the saying goes, "One man's trash is another man's treasure."
Next, upcycle and reuse. Always find a way to reuse an old item before recycling (or worse... disregarding to the landfill completely). Example: turn an old shoe into the pot for your next little plant friend.
Next, recycle. Research what your local recycling program accepts, and make use of their services before sending anything to the landfill.
Next, compost. Stay tuned for a How to Compost blog post coming soon.
And lastly, check out your TerraCycle Program. They’ve become absolute badasses at finding a way to recycle dang near everything.
Progress Over Perfection... Enjoy the Journey!
Being hard on yourself will only lead to unwanted stress and unhappiness. Take a different approach here by allowing yourself to love the journey you have just embarked on. You are saving the planet for goodness' sake– don't forget it! The very fact that you are reading this blog post confirms your desire for a cleaner, greener more just and thriving world for all, and that's pretty sensational.
Quick tip: keep a journal documenting the progress you make month to month. In a year's time, you won't even recognize the person who started.